From Despair to Hope
Rev. Ronald H. Matthews
This inspirational text is often used at memorial services because of its message of promise and hope. In recent years we have witnessed a shift in our funeral customs. They are becoming a time for celebration. Not that we don't grieve, mourn and feel a deep loss when our loved ones die; we surely do, but if we truly believe the words of Jesus; they remind us that a Christian's funeral service is really an Easter celebration! We gather to offer thanksgiving to God for the life of our loved ones and to celebrate the HOPE that is ours through Jesus Christ. "We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died (I Thess 4:13-14)." That HOPE is symbolized for us in our baptism into the Christian faith. When we come to the point of making our profession of faith and are baptized in the name of Jesus Christ; we are given a spiritually "born again" into what the Apostle Paul called "that blessed hope." We are embraced by the one who says to us, "Follow me and HOPE in God! Don't be afraid. I have loved you first and in that love you may rest secure."
God's pledge and promise to us through Jesus Christ is the source of our hope! It is not within us. It comes from outside our dimension of space and time. It comes from God and it transcends the world of our immediate experience. Our hope is securely anchored beyond the horizons of this world's madness. J.B. Phillips translation of Phillipians 3:19: "This world has become the limit of their horizon." Robert Louis Stevenson had hope beyond this world, which he referenced in saying, "I refuse to let a row of medicine bottles become my horizon." In the language of the Indonesian people, the word for hope is defined as "the ability to see beyo ...
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